Kristen Gruca brings the best of the Olympic Games to U.S. television viewers
What do you get when you combine an Emmy-award winning work at the X Games, a resume that includes impressive number of sporting and entertainment events, and a spirit that somehow manages to remain humble? You get Kristen Gruca, workflow specialist at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Gruca is a 2003 graduate of Asbury University, and she credits much of her life’s successes to her foundation at the school and in Kentucky, in general. “I can literally trace everything back to Kentucky…there’s a definite line that leads back to Kentucky.”
“It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you in this business,”says Gruca. “Just telling people that I went to Asbury, they say ‘Oh, you’re [School of Communication Arts Dean] Jim [Owens]’s student,’ and that adds a lot of weight.” Also, living in Kentucky allowed her to be centrally located and she worked several Indy car races and football games. There are still some experiences she missed, though. “[I] never got to work a Wildcats game, which is sad, but maybe someday in my career I’ll be able to come back and do that.”
Gruca’s role at the Olympics is to essentially manage everything viewers at home see when they watch the Games on primetime. She works for NBC, “helping to facilitate some of the edited pieces that come back to [spectators] for primetime.” She and her team send videos to the editors who put everything together, contribute to the editing, and deal with all recording and playout for NBC. “We take the big program and we make it into bite sized chunks and we take all the best pieces from it,” she explains.
Her list of accomplishments includes work for the World Cup, X Games, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She adds, “I do a lot of stuff just locally at home, too,” including work with ESPN, Sunday Night Football, Coachella, Bonaroo and Lollapalooza, to name a few. In addition, she won an Emmy in 2012 for her work with the X Games.
Her favorite event is the X Games, and this is the first time in 12 years she hasn’t attended. “That’s the event I won my first Emmy on,” she says, adding, “I’ve been doing it almost since I started in this business.”
She’s not missing out on all winter games this year, though. A few days ago, she took a break from her office work and went to a halfpipe competition. Although she was disappointed that the U.S. team didn’t medal, she says, “I’m fortunate enough [to have] seen Shaun White perform a perfect run,” adding that seeing that outweighed the disappointment of the lack of medal.
Gruca says her time at Asbury provided a lot of experience on what it’s like to be in a television broadcast. “I learned what all the different positions on a broadcast were and got to work on an ESPN2 broadcast a month after I moved to Kentucky.”
Asbury, she says, is where she found her passion for the work she does today.“I definitely wouldn’t be in the position that I am today without having spent those years in Kentucky and making those connections.”